a flash fiction piece by Alyssa
Crystalline specks of gentle light greet my droopy eyes, bleary with waning sleep. A couple of blinks and an exaggerated stretch quickly rids me of my tiredness.
The window in the ceiling allows a perfect view of the myriad of blinking stars in the surrounding galaxy, whichever it may be.
“Good morning, Captain! How did cryosleep treat you?” Brady’s quirky grin is the first sight my eyes meet other than the vast oblivion above me.
“Are you the first up?” I reply, glancing around at the other pods down the row.
“Why do you think I woke you? I was getting mighty lonely here without any company.”
I roll my eyes playfully, grateful for his spirit. Opening my mouth to speak again, I am suddenly cut off when the lights dim, replaced by flashing reds and the blaring alarms.
“Wake the others,” I order, turning heel and racing towards the front hull of the ship. I skid to a halt at the front window, assessing the situation.
My eyes widen in horror as we quickly approach an unknown planet. What appears to be water dots the surface, but it is murky from what I can see.
Needing my crew for further help, I call in Brady. He comes in with Malary, Duke and Sawyer.
“Where’s Hanna?” I ask, while silently directing the others to their stations with a short series of hand symbols.
“Her pod was unable to support her… She didn’t make it.” His voice is stricken.
A pang of sadness hits me for our loss, but now was not the time to grieve.
“Captain, we’ve collided with the gravitational pull of that unknown planet,” Sawyer calls, raising his hoarse voice over the alarm. “The thrusters don’t have time to charge; we have no choice but to go down.”
“Can we ease the impact?” I demand, my heart pounding profusely.
Sawyer quickly turns away, working at his station with skilled fingers.
I help as best as I can, jogging to the multiple panels in the limited time we have.
We hit turbulence a moment later, the ship shudders and the alarms grow louder, piercing our still sensitive ears.
The rough air makes us incapable of a maneuvered landing. The collision is short but hard, and I can almost feel the clouds of dust billowing around us upon contact.
The darkness is inevitable. We have no choice but to succumb to the evil of consuming black.
Brady shakes me awake. My head is throbbing painfully, vision clouding, yet I can still make out his evident distress.
“Thank God,” he sighs, relieved. “I was worried you had joined Malary and Duke. May they rest in peace.”
I refuse to let their deaths affect me, not in a situation like this. I take a breath to recover, then prod, “Where’s Sawyer?”
He pauses, debating in his mind.
“Brady, where is Sawyer?” I repeat.
He shrugs, emotionlessly chuckling. “Gone. He left an hour ago, mumbling to himself.”
“And you let him go?! On an unknown planet, of all places!”
“The atmosphere is safe to breathe, though it may be difficult, I can assure you. Other than a minimal amount of radiation, Sawyer will be fine.”
“That makes it okay for him to be roaming around alone?”
“Of course not, but he would have attacked me! Took a sharp shard of glass with him and warned me not to follow… Couldn’t leave you behind, Captain.”
I relaxed at his gentle tone, knowing it would be better for two of us to be together if alone in this unknown world.
Brady’s baby blue eyes glaze over for a moment, as though pondering a decision, before reluctantly pointing through a hole in our ship. I hadn’t noticed it before.
The world before me was arid, dressed with various shades of sands, dust, and dirt. Dunes spot the otherwise empty landscape.
My eyes fall upon a body on top of the nearest hill. I shoot to my feet, ignoring the dizziness and Brady’s protests, and sprint towards it.
It was Sawyer, the glass embedded into his stomach. I choke at the sight of blood and the already lingering scent of death.
My eyes travel to the message scrawled in the sand:
We would never have gotten home.
Brady is behind me now, rubbing my trembling shoulders. I relish in his comfort.
“Why would he say this? Why would he do this?” I cry.
“Look over the hill,” Brady whispers, his voice cracking. I comply, leaning on my remaining companion for support.
I almost fall over at the sight of the Statue of Liberty, half buried under the ground.
Alyssa is in ninth grade.